Story and photo by Sgt. William Smith
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
Staff Sgt. Spencer Anderson remembers the day when two 155 mm rounds went off less than 10 meters outside his Humvee’s door.
“I saw a flash of light and then I woke up I guess a couple minutes later,” he said. “When I came to, we were under a small arms attack.”
On Jan. 21, 2007, Anderson and his team members directed suppressive fire from where the flashes were coming.
“The whole engagement seemed like a long time, but it was probably less than 10 minutes,” he said. “Time seems to slow down in things like that.”
A medic with 1st Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Anderson sustained a head injury and other internal injuries.
Anderson didn’t let his injuries limit him, though.
For three years, Anderson went through cognitive therapy, developing his short-term memory skills while in the Warrior Transition Battalion in Germany. Last year, he earned his spot as a flight medic with Company C, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
From May 11-17, Anderson will represent the Army in the 2013 Warrior Games in cycling, seated-volleyball and the 100- and 200-meter sprint.
Designed to introduce injured servicemembers and veterans to paralympic sports such as archery, cycling, shooting, sitting-volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball, the Warrior Games encourages wounded warriors from all of the services to get physically active.
Anderson said that injuries are not an excuse, but a focus point to be better at whatever passion a person chooses after being hurt.
“Rule your injury; don’t let your injury rule you,” said Anderson. “(Injuries) should be a tool to use to further something that you want to do. I use it to become a better cyclist. It gives me something to focus and harness my energy toward.”
Anderson’s outlook has been an inspiration for other wounded warriors in the Warrior Transition Battalion. That, coupled with his performance, earned him the nomination of captain for the Army cycling team.
“In the four years that I have known him, he has always led from the front, and provided tons of motivation to the people that are around him,” said Sgt. 1st Class Keoki Smythe, Company B, WTB. “I have seen him, countless times, reach a hand out and help that person who needs help and encouragement to make it up a big hill during a ride or that hand cyclist that needs that little push to keep going.”
Many feel that Anderson is the definition of team, constantly caring for others over himself. When Soldiers from the newly activated 2nd GSAB arrived at Fort Carson, Anderson lent his expertise, helping them set up medical operations procedures.
“My first impression of Anderson was, ‘Wow,’” said 1st Sgt. Raymond Cardenas, senior enlisted leader, Company C, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., 4th CAB, 4th Inf. Div. “He reached out to me after he found out I was going to be stationed here. He single-handedly set up the standard operating procedures for the battalion on medical operations. He did that on his own prerogative and never took credit for it. He made something out of nothing.”
Smythe said that with Anderson’s leadership they will place well in the games.
“He brings an ample amount of leadership to our team as the captain,” he said. “Across the board, we have a really strong group of riders this year, and that is because of what he does for us.”
Anderson said his goal for the Warrior Games is to put as many Army guys on the podium as possible for cycling.
“I don’t care if I make the podium or not, it makes no difference to me,” he said. “It is about the team; it is about making sure I get as many people from my team on the podium.”
Whether he places or not, Anderson’s competitive drive won’t let him quit, no matter what.
“It doesn’t matter what your injury or illness is, you can be productive and part of the team, and you can overcome whatever it is you are facing,” he said. “You can still do great things for the Army or good things for your life.”